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The Old and New Socialism of Bernie Sanders: Should Catholics Support It?

WASHINGTON — As Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has become the strong 2020 Democratic front-runner after his wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and most recently and commandingly in Nevada, renewed questions have arisen about what his “Democratic socialism“ means and what his policies would mean for religious freedom — and about how compatible his political philosophy is with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Even his Democratic primary opponents now are taking direct aim at Sanders’ socialism.

On the debate stage in Las Vegas, billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg said, “We’re not going to throw out capitalism. … Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.” Sanders, whose proposal prompted the remark, called it a “cheap shot,” claiming his Democratic socialism was “for working people, not billionaires — health care for all, educational opportunities for all.”

And following Sanders’ landslide Nevada victory, Pete Buttigieg warned, “Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.”

The 78-year-old Sanders grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a Jewish family. Although currently he is “not actively involved in organized religion,” he told The New York Times editorial board in December that he is “proud to be Jewish.”

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